Media darlings after the commercial success of their debut, Digable Planets
attempted to prove their artistic merit with this second album, and succeeded wildly. A worthy, underrated successor, Blowout Comb
was just as catchy and memorable as their first, and also offered the perfect response to critics and hip-hop fans who complained they weren't "real" enough. Except for a dark, indecipherable single named "Dial 7 (Axioms of Creamy Spies)," Blowout Comb
excelled at pushing great grooves over sunny-day party jams, even when the crew was providing deft social commentary -- as on "Black Ego" and "Dial 7 (Axioms of Creamy Spies)." The trio used their greater clout to invite instrumentalists instead of relying completely on samples, and the music took on more aspects of the live jam than before. Though Blowout Comb
still borrowed a host of riffs from great jazz anthems (from Bob James
to Bobbi Humphrey
), Digable Planets
used them well, as beds for their back-and-forth freestyling and solos from guests. The Digables
remade Roy Ayers
' "We Live in Brooklyn, Baby" into "Borough Check," and invited Guru
from Gang Starr
to salute Brooklyn's block-parties and barbershops. (The focus on the neighborhood even carried over to the liner notes, laid out like a community newspaper.) The closer, a brassy, seven-minute "For Corners," also captured that fleeting feeling of neighborhood peace. Though Blowout Comb
lacked the commercial punch of Reachin'
, Digable Planets
made great strides in the two areas they'd previously been criticized: beats and rhymes. The beats were incredible, some of the best ever
heard on a rap record, a hip-hop version of the classic, off-kilter, New Orleans second-line funk. The productions, all crafted by the group themselves, were laid-back and clearly superior to much hip-hop of the time. The raps, though certainly not hardcore, were just as intelligent as on the debut, and flowed much better. While Reachin'
came to sound like a moment in time for the jazz-rap crowd, Blowout Comb
has remained a timeless classic.